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Jan Tschichold studied calligraphy and typography at the Leipzig Academy for Graphic Arts and Book Trades under Walter Tiemann, who introduced him to the ideology of classic typography. In 1923, Tschichold visited the first Bauhaus exhibition in Weimar , which heavily influenced his typographic style for the rest of his career.
Jan Tschichold was to become the chief propagandist for the New Typography, although he was never fully associated with them. In 1925 Tschichold submitted elementaire typographie, a special issue of the trade journal Typographische Mitteillungen. This was a planned Bauhaus publication however, included work of non-Bauhaus designers such as El Lissitzky, who was more associated with Soviet Propaganda montage work.
Sabon was designed by Jan Tschichold in 1964 and jointly released by Stempel, Linotype, and Monotype foundries.
The New Typography of the Bauhaus was revolutionary. It was a reaction challenging the current political and philosophical views that had led Europe into the First World War while, also acting as an appraisal of the machine and modern technology. The Bauhaus also claimed that typography, like architecture, must be functional; and it introduced the idea of ‘tension' into typography .
Tschichold's early thinking revolved around this need for communicative clarity. As one of the most important practitioners of the ‘die neue typographie' that developed in Europe between the wars, he was one of the few typographers whose formal training was not in traditional fields such as Art and Architecture. As well as redesigning Penguin Books typefaces and layouts around these principals of simplicity, he also produced a small number of critically important typefaces.
Eric Gill's work provides a useful comparison to the work of Tschichold's. Gill was working in England only a few years before Tschichold in Germany , and variations in their general approach to typography should be noted. As we have already seen, Gill was not in favour of mechanisation and preferred traditional techniques.
Tschichold brought a radically new attitude to typography and printing, proposing an asymmetric approach to letterform design as it was dynamic and not static and was ‘in harmony with the age'. The type was to be sans serif as it was believed it stripped the letter forms down to their basic, elemental shapes.
Throughout most of his work, Tschichold encouraged the use asymmetrical layouts and san serif typefaces, rejecting revivals of historic styles of type as fancy dress. It was only later in his career when he started to revert to a more classical stance, producing serif faces based on famous designs of the past. Most notable were his designs for Sabon, which is a descendant of a typeface by Claude Garamond, with italics based on samples by Robert Gradin. >>>